Are Americans making poor decisions after drinking?
With St. Patrick’s around the corner, some Americans may already worry about their spending habits ahead of the year’s biggest drinking extravaganza. Nearly half of American adults (46%) who drink alcohol regularly admit to making a purchase while under the influence — an estimated 68 million people, drawn from our study of 2,000 American adults.
The biggest concern? Our drunk shopping addiction may be rising, given we’re spending double the amount on last year’s purchases while under the influence!
Americans have spent an estimated $30.43 billion on these spontaneous drunk purchases, or about $447.57 per person. Compare this to just $206 spent on drunk purchases last year.
Come March 17th, the sound of your credit card declining might just be worse than your hangover.
Boozing by the numbers
60.27% of American adults — or an estimated 148 million of us — drink an average 7 alcoholic beverages weekly.
We spend $5.4 billion on alcoholic beverages a week — an average $36.56 per person.
The most popular alcoholic drink is beer, with 39.53% of American adults drinking an average 5 beers weekly.
Men are twice as likely as women to consume beer, with an estimated 53.4% of men enjoying a beer, compared with only 26.48% of women who pick up a can weekly.
Wine is a woman’s drink of choice, with 37.54% of women enjoying an average 2 glasses a week.
Millennials are twice as likely as Gen Xers and baby boomers combined to enjoy a glass of moonshine or other liquor.
Men are twice as likely as women to consume spirits, with an estimated 36.49% of men regularly boozing up on liquor compared with 18.43% of women.
Shop ’til you drop …
Our research reveals what tipsy shoppers are most likely to spend on soaking up their alcohol: Some 60.83% of shoppers say they spend up on food. The next most common purchases are shoes and clothes (25.09%) and gambling (24.91%). Yet others admit to buying concert tickets and even prostitution under the influence. Gives a whole new meaning to “shop ’til you drop!” doesn’t it?
Gen Xers spend the most on drunk purchases, averaging $738.87 per haul — more than triple the amount ($206.11) that millennials spent.
But while Gen Xers spend more, millennials are more likely to spontaneously indulge on a spree their next night out, with 61.07% of millennials who drink regularly admitting to drunk shopping. Compared that to Gen Xers at 51.17% and baby boomers at 31.29%.
But which generation embodies the biggest drinker? On an average week, a Gen Xer spends $36.91 on alcohol, compared with $59.28 a week for millennials. That’s a whopping $1,163.24 extra that millennials spend on booze each year! That’s a whole new perspective on their “indulgent” avocado toast habit.
Surprisingly, men spend almost double that of women when under the influence, averaging a total $564.51 per spend, compared to women, who spend an average $282.65. Compounding this, men are also more likely to buy while boozed up, with 48.19% of men who drink regularly admitting to a drunken shop, compared with the 41.36% of women who do so.
On an average week, men spend an estimated $44.17 on alcohol — much higher than the average $26.77 women spend to drink. That’s an extra $904.80 that men spend on booze than women in a year!
Spirits and liquor appear more popular with men than women. Men are four times more likely (3.30%) to enjoy a sneaky moonshine than their female counterparts (0.68%). And it’s nearly twice as likely that men (8.45%) will consume cider than women (4.36%).
Married Americans spend twice as much on spontaneous drunk purchases than their divorced counterparts, with an average $327.62 spent in total compared to a divorcee’s $147.71. However, singletons are the most likely to make a purchase while drunk: 55.78% of single people admitting to making a purchase while under the influence, compared with only 43.63% of married drinkers.
Bear in mind, we’re reporting figures for adults only. However illegal it is for teens to imbibe, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five youths ages 12 to 20 drink alcohol, and 11% of all alcohol consumed in the US is consumed by 12- to 20-year-olds!
How do our drunk shopping habits compare to the UK?
Although Brits are more likely to drink regularly than us, we take the cake for shopping under the influence – but only just! On average, each of us spends more ($447.57) than our counterparts in the UK ($404.71). Check out the table below for the numbers in-depth.
80.45% Brits drink alcohol regularly
60.27% of American adults have at least one drink a week on average
45.80% of those who drink have drunk shopped
46% of us who drink alcohol regularly admit to making a purchase while under the influence
36.35% of Brits (over 15 million) have made drunk purchases in the past
27.69% of us (an estimated 68 million) have made drunk purchases in the past
The average total cost of these drunk purchases is an estimated $404.71 (£291.07) each in the UK
We spend a bit more spend on average per person, at $447.57, compared to $206 last year
Approximately $6.20 billion (£4.46 billion) is blown on drunk shopping nationally
Americans have spent an estimated $30.43 billion on these spontaneous drunk purchases
Men (47.35%) are more likely than women (44.30%) to make drunk purchases
Men are also more likely to drink and shop in the US (48.19% of men vs 41.36% of women)
Men ($506.98) spend more than women ($296.65)
Men ($564.51) also spend more than women ($282.65) in the US
Millennials (59.29% ) make the most drunk purchases, followed by Gen Xers (51.70%) and baby boomers (31.36%)
This is the same in the US, with 61.07% of millennials who drink regularly admitting to drunk shopping, followed by Gen Xers (51.17%) and baby boomers (31.29%)
Gen X spends the most individually at an average of $520.57, followed by baby boomers ($440.82) and millennials ($253.56)
Gen X again spends the most on drunk purchases ($738.87), then baby boomers ($246.51) and millennials ($206.11)
Want to have your Guinness and drink it too?
Strategies to avoid the extra headache on your next credit card bill:
Prevent impulse purchases by downloading finder.com’s Icebox Chrome plugin, which helps you put purchases “on ice” for a spell before you’re able to complete that online purchase.
Set yourself a cash budget, and leave your cards at home. You can’t spend what you don’t have.
This data is from a survey of 2,001 US adults commissioned by finder.com and conducted by Pureprofile in February 2018.
Past drunk shopping surveys
St. Patrick’s day may have come and gone, but some Americans may be finding themselves with more than just a bar tab on their credit card bill. Almost half of all Americans (46%) who regularly drink alcohol weekly, admit to shopping under the influence. Nothing like a shipping confirmation email to make your hangover a little bit worse.
Boozing by the numbers …
27% of American adults drink on average 9 alcoholic beverages per week — that’s an estimated 66.9 million American adults
9% of Americans drink more than 9 per week
The most popular alcoholic drink is beer, with 21% of those who drink regularly enjoy drinking beer
It was followed by 17% of these people choose wine as a regular drink, while 14% drink spirits on a weekly basis
We spend $80.05 on average each week on alcohol
Research shows that tipsy shoppers are spending an average of $206 in under in the influence purchases. The most common investments amongst drunk shoppers are shoes or clothes (39%), tied with gambling (39%). Rounding out the top three is cigarettes with 38% admitting they can’t resist the urge for a smoke.
Shop till you drop
46% of people who regularly drink alcohol each week also make spontaneous purchases while drunk
Almost two in five of these people (39%) admitted to buying shoes or clothes while intoxicated
39% also admitted to gambling while under the influence
Cigarettes was the third most popular thing to buy when drunk, with 38% of these people admitting they had done so
Average cost of spontaneous drunk purchases: $206
What can you do about it?
Strategies to save some coin after a few drinks …
Avoid going online and remove any shopping apps on your phone that could give your drunken self easy access – if you must go online, channel into on-demand viewing, games or social media sites instead
Put a block on certain sites during hours you are most likely to be under the influence (Friday night at 9pm for example)
Hide your credit cards before you start imbibing
If all else fails, steer your sloshed self to sites with flexible return policies
We like a drink and we like online shopping, and the combination can be expensive.
It happens so easily. You’ve had a drink or two, you pull out your cellphone, and suddenly you’ve spent hundreds of dollars online. But what are you most likely to buy?
New data from finder.com suggests that if we drink and shop, we usually end up with new clothes. Here are the most common drink-driven purchases, according to a survey of 3,123 Americans conducted by Pureprofile in January 2017:
Shoes and clothes
The average amount we spend in an unplanned booze-filled buying session is $139, but the total can vary significantly depending on our sex. Men on average spend more than four times as much as women ($233 in a session versus $54).
What drinks drive those decisions? Beer tops the list, followed by wine and spirits. Our average expenditure per year on alcohol is $796, which totals up to a liver-challenging $179 billion each year.
Here are the top 10 states for expenditure on alcohol and how much a typical resident spends each week and on an annual basis:
The top purchases for men and women look like this:
Shoes and clothes (8%)
Shoes and clothes (6%)
Tech products (5%)
Narcotics (drugs, etc) (2%)
How to cut down on drunken shopping
Drunken shopping is a money mistake we’d all prefer to avoid. Worried that you’re likely to shop when you sip? Follow these tips to cut down on your spending:
Switch off data services on your phone before you go out drinking. You’ll still be able to text and make calls, but you won’t be able to easily indulge.
Don’t save credit card details when you shop online. That way, you can’t easily make a one-click purchase.
Set yourself clear long-term savings goals. Those will help you resist accidental shopping sprees.
We don’t often hesitate when it comes to sharing expensive purchases that we’re proud of. But what about those purchases we regret? Get the breakdown between generations and genders on what we regret most financially, from college to gambling. Read more…
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, we may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.